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Archive for the category “USA”

Siemens eHighway

Seven year old Siemens video

It already works for trains and trolleybuses, so why not for trucks as well? Trucks powered by overhead-wires. A test stretch has been build near Frankfurt, on the A5-motorway between Langen and Weiterstadt.

[siemens.com] – eHighway – Electrification of road freight transport
[cleantechnica.com] – Germany Launches eHighway Project
[Google Maps] – Location

Sweden apparently has an eHighway as well.

[scania.com] – World’s first electric road opens in Sweden

Developments in Offshore Wind Jack-Up Market

New offshore wind installation mega-vessel “Voltaire”, able to lift 3,000 ton, ordered by Jan de Nul, Belgium, scheduled to become operational in 2022.

According to Bloomberg there are merely a dozen ships in the world that can install a large offshore wind turbine, which is understandable with a list price of ca. 300 million euro per ship. Currently almost all these vessels are operating in European waters. Europe is uniquely blessed with ca. 600,000 km2 shallow water with high wind speeds (North Sea, Baltic and Irish Sea, together an area larger than France) that can be utilized for offshore wind, in principle enough to supply the entire EU (300 GW on average), three-five times over.

[deepresource] – The Giants of a New Energy Age
[deepresource] – European Wind Energy Potential
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[deepresource] – Unleashing Europe’s Offshore Wind Potential 2030

Principle offshore wind installation vessel illustrated. About one turbine foundation can be realized per day or 4 per week, if fetching a new batch in port is included. The next generation is 10 MW, 13 MW is in the pipeline. Take the Netherlands: 13 GW average electricity consumption. That could be covered by 1,000 wind turbines, or 2,000 rather, if a conservative capacity factor of 50% for large turbines is taken into account. That’s 500 weeks or 10 years installation time. So, a single ship can realize the electricity transition of a country like Holland in a decade. For 100% renewable primary energy we need to calculate twice the amount of electricity consumed today, that’s only two decades! Productivity could be significantly enhanced if a simple cheap barge and tugboat is used to fetch a new batch of 4-6 monopiles from the harbor in Rotterdam, Vlissingen or Eemshaven, while the expensive installation vessel Aeolus merrily hammers away full-time. In that case 4,000 13 MW turbines could be installed in 4,000 days or 11 years. Note that in the mean time a lot of additional solar and onshore wind capacity has been, c.q. will be built. In conclusion: this single ship Aeolus is able to complete the energy transition of the Netherlands, the #17 in the global GDP ranking before 2030, not 2050 as the EU demands. Most likely developing sufficient storage capacity will be the real bottleneck, not electricity generation capacity.

1600 GW waiting to be raked in. EU average power consumption 300 GW. The old continent has no conventional fossil fuel reserves worth mentioning, fortunately Europe doesn’t need to. Armed with the Paris Climate Accords, Europe effectively dissed everybody else his fossil fuel reserves and is offering a viable alternative instead.

Some recent developments in the fields of offshore jack-up vessels:

[bloomberg.com] – Offshore Wind Will Need Bigger Boats. Much Bigger Boats
[auxnavaliaplus.org] – Vessels and platforms for the emerging wind market (pdf, 108p)
[deme-group.com] – DEME’s giant installation vessel ‘Orion’ launched in China
[a2sea.com] – A2SEA Invests in a New Jack-up Vessel
[4coffshore.com] – Construction Progressing for Next Gen Vessel
[cemreshipyard.com] – Offshore Vessels Demand for Offshore Wind Activities
[windenergie-magazine.nl] – Jan de Nul orders new installation vessel
[jandenul.com] – Getting ready for the next generation of offshore wind projects
[offshorewind.biz] – Jan De Nul Orders Mega Jack-Up
[industryreports24.com] – Massive hike by Wind Turbine Installation Vessel Market
[renews.biz] – Japan joins offshore wind jack-up brigade
[maritime-executive.com] – Wind Tower Service Firm Plans to Build Jones Act Ships
[iro.nl] – New design jack-up vessels to strengthen Ulstein’s offshore wind ambitions
[newenergyupdate.com] – Flurry US offshore vessel deals prepares market for huge turbines

Transition Physics

Clean Energy Wiki also known as “Center for Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research (CMDITR)Photonics Wiki”
This wiki is a reference collection on clean energy, organic photovoltaics, research in photonics, and organic electronics.

The bulk of the collection was created by the Center for Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research -NSF Grant #0120967.

The Photonicswiki is now being administered by the University of Washington Clean Energy Institute (CEI) and is transitioning to the Clean Energy Wiki with the addition of new solar materials, energy storage and grid integration topics. Legacy photonics content will be maintained because there is a productive overlap in and fundamental science and the tools.

[photonicswiki.org] – Clean Energy Wiki

Magnetic Gearing for Renewable Energy Devices

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and wave, can power our world. Currently, mechanical gears are used inside of these energy conversion systems to connect a high-speed electric machine to a low-speed physical energy source. Improving the design of the systems that convert these sources into electrical energy has far-reaching benefits.

[coastalstudiesinstitute.org] – Improving Efficiency, Maintenance and Power Output
[tees.tamu.edu] – Magnetic gears to advance renewable energy technology
[wikipedia.org] – Magnetic gear

Read more…

Liquified Metal Battery

[wikipedia.org] – Donald Sadoway
[wikipedia.org] – Molten-salt battery

UCG R&D in the US

Major 2017 US UCG study, saying that UCG can be a viable source of fossil energy, but that the technology had its heyday in the seventies and eighties and was abandoned then and a lot of senior knowledge and skills has evaporated since. This study supports our attitude that their is no lack of fossil to worry about. The real constraint is the capacity or lack thereof of the environment and atmosphere in particular to absorb all that burned fossil fuel without major consequences for the biosphere. Don’t worry about depletion, worry about how to get away as quickly as possible from fossil fuel.

[e-reports-ext.llnl.gov] – A Review of Underground Coal Gasification Research and Development in the US (2017). David W. Camp – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Here chapter 10 from the report in full, with our highlights:

10 Concluding remarks

Recent U.S. work between 2005 and 2014 improved understanding of UCG’s environmental aspects, produced improved models, matured site selection processes, and contributed to the review and sharing of UCG information. But the main program of the 1970’s and 1980’s is when the big contributions were made.

The United States work of the 1970’s and 1980’s produced great advances in UCG understanding and technical accomplishments. The technical feasibility of UCG was demonstrated convincingly in the western world. It showed that UCG operations could be designed, constructed, started, operated, and shut down safely. The U.S. started with reports from the Soviet Union that described UCG operations and phenomena, making use of Soviet methods during many field tests. Multiple organizations working at different sites developed a breadth and depth of competence and understanding of UCG, and used this expertise to experiment, innovated, and make great advancements in UCG capabilities, and technology.

Air was injected to make low heating value gas (4-7 MJ/Nm3), and mixtures of oxygen and steam were injected to make medium heating value gas (8-13 MJ/Nm3). U.S. field test operations were at the scale of 1,000 to 10,000 tons of coal in a single module, although some of the modules had multiple burn cavities in them.

Operations almost always ended up working, but they did not always go smoothly as planned. Hardware issues and challenges in the underground and extremely hot environment were a frequent reminder that UCG is still low on the technological development curve towards mature industrial practice.

Some field tests resulted in groundwater contamination. This led to a much greater awareness and understanding of this problem, and recommended approaches to minimize it. The final Rocky Mountain 1 test used many of these and contamination was minor, local, and reduced to deminimus levels after a period of pumping. It remains to be seen if subsequent UCG operations, especially ones at scale can be operated with acceptably low environmental impacts.

Technologies were developed, making use of the rapidly improving technology of directional or horizontal drilling and well completions. These showed promise for scale-up to larger and deeper operations while retaining process efficiency and control. ELW had first been tried in a successful improvisation at Hoe Creek III, and then fielded at Rocky Mountain 1. The greatest technological advance was the invention of the CRIP technique. After successful demonstration in the Centralia field test, CRIP was fielded and performed excellently at the Rocky Mountain 1 test. Designs based on CRIP show great promise for cost-effective scale-up to large, deep and efficient operations.

Most of the early large-scale designs and plans naively assumed that large industrial scale operations would be scaled up with a simple pilot program to gather values for a few key parameters. The complexity and difficulty of UCG was such that despite a long well-funded program, the final field test, while deploying many technical and environmental advances, was not much more than twice the size of the first field test, 14 years earlier. There were no long-term operations of multiple modules or the execution of a full “mine plan.” This was not for lack of interest or enthusiasm for industrial scale – scaleup to a size that would help U.S. energy security was always on researchers minds and addressed in nearly every report.

Doing UCG well, smoothly, and with low environmental impact was simply difficult and required experience and improved methods that needed to be invented and practiced. Much of the test design, construction, and operations were being tried for the first or second time by people doing these things for the first or second time. They faced the challenges always posed by geology, thermal processing of coal, and process engineering pilot start-ups, often in remote locations in harsh weather.

This was a period of strong and continued investment, intense activity, and a great pace of development and learning. Some of the keys to its technical success were long-term continuity of funding and the institutions working on it, sharing of results in public conferences and reports, and determination to understand UCG and make improvements.

While the many field tests formed the centerpiece of the program, they were not isolated activities. The program was robust and well rounded. Measurements of gas composition and quality were made to understand and improve the process, not to advertise success. There was iteration between field test observations, scientific understanding of phenomena, modeling, and lab experiments, with each informing and improving the other. Field tests were first and foremost experimental trials and innovation test-beds. They were not marketing endeavors designed to attract investors and project partners. They emphasized learning, understanding, and technical advancement over simple metrics such as tons gasified. Field tests were highly instrumented and monitored, and drill-backs were common. The mechanisms and geometries of cavity growth, and the contents and nature of the cavities became understood. Conceptual models of the process evolved to better explain and predict observed phenomena.

Program participation was well-rounded. Government research institutions led much of the field test and modeling work. Large energy companies and small UCG-niche companies also had programs that typically included field tests, sometimes with government support and sometimes not. University researchers were involved with laboratory experiments and model development. Experience, capabilities, and knowledge and insight were gained by those actively involved. A sizeable cadre of competent researchers, engineers, and technicians by the 1980’s made the potential growth of an industry feasible. This has now been lost, as all but the most junior of participants of that generation are past retirement age.

Their legacy of reports, and reviews such as this one can convey only a fraction of what these workers knew.

The Annual UCG Symposia tied all these efforts together, fostering communication among researchers to build upon each other. Organized by the DOE, participation and written papers were expected of DOE-funded projects, but many others attended and presented. Because of government funding, a large fraction of the activities was documented well in publicly accessible reports.

UCG understanding and technology advanced in the U.S. in a crucible that mixed creative ideas and the hard realities of field test operations. Observations and results, surprises and disappointments, revisions to mental and mathematical models, and the desire to understand and innovate moved the researchers toward better ways of doing UCG.

A consensus developed in the U.S. that UCG’s future would be in deep horizontal seams of moderate to large thickness, ideally with low-permeability coal and surrounding strata, and a strong overburden. Directional drilling and CRIP appeared best for process control, efficiency and economics. Further testing and development would be needed to assure its reliability, sort out a preference for its linear or parallel embodiment, optimize it, and/or innovate to something even better.

The U.S. UCG program of the 1970’s and 1980’s was extraordinarily productive and successful at advancing a difficult technology. It began with very little domestic knowledge or experience. It ended with a large cadre of experts, successful single-module field tests, a good understanding of the phenomena involved, predictive models, new and more efficient technology and methods, and a good understanding and plans of what next steps were needed to scale up and mature to large-scale industrial operations.

The Engines of the Renewable Energy Age

Now that the petrol and diesel internal combustion engines are on the way out, the question rises: what will replace them? One candidate is obvious, the electro-motor, powered by renewable electricity, with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell as intermediary storage stage:

[source]Car electromotor

But what if we only have heat available as an energy source, for instance from burning biomass, methanol, ammonia, or even metal powder like is shown here (0:43 – 1:20):

Stirline engine powered by burning iron powder

The answer to that question would be the Stirling engine. A Dutch-based company called Microgen claims (in 2014) to be the first to mass produce a stirling engine, albeit still powered by natural gas. Microgen is located in Doetinchem, has an R&D-facility in Petersborough, England and production in China. Patents probably owned by Sunpower from the US.

Work on the Stirling engine was carried out in the sixties by Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as well as by Ford and GM in the seventies. But none of these projects made it into mass production.

[agem.nu] – Stirlingmotor uit de Achterhoek slingert duurzaamheid aan
[microgen-engine.com] – Microgen corporate site
[wikipedia.org] – Stirling Engine
[wikipedia.org] – Applications of the Stirling Engine
[wikipedia.org] – Internal combustion engine

Swedisch submarine powered by a Stirling engine

Philips Stirling motor, still working half a century later.

World’s Next Largest Battery to be Built in Texas (495 MW)

[source] A similar, already realized project in South-Australia

Scheduled completion date May 2021.
To be combined with solar park of equal size.
Ironically to be used for oil drilling (hey, this is Texas!)

[bloomberg.com] – World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas Oil Country
[Google Maps]

Solar Panel Still Working After 40 Years

Journalists discovered a shabby, nearly-forgotten, 40 year old solar panel in New Hampshire. And it was still producing electricity. Perhaps not as much as in the beginning, but “on a partly cloudy midafternoon” it could still cough up 24 Watt of the original 42 nameplate peak-Watt. This shows that the standard 20-year economic lifetime of solar parks is very conservative.

[concordmonitor.com] – A solar panel in the New Hampshire woods is old enough to run for president

Even more spectacular and accurately German-academically established are the results from a 35 year old solar array at the University of Oldenburg:

[presse.uni-oldenburg.de]
[uol.de] – 30 Years at the Service of Renewable Energies

Spectacular! Conversion efficiency decreased only mildly from 8.55% to 8.2%! The panels survived the companies AEG and Telefunken that build the installation.

[source] The 35 year old solar modules at Oldenburg University

Some calculations. A standard 300 Watt panel of 160 x 100 cm at a price of 250 euro (without installation cost) will produce in Oldenburg something like 285 kWh per year. Multiply that with 50 years = 14.250 kWh lifetime total. One liter of gasoline contains 12 kWh energy in the form of heat. Note that electricity from a solar panel is “higher grade” than heat. You can power your fridge on electricity but not on heat. Conversion of heat into electricity comes with a loss of perhaps 50%.

So this 30 kilo solar panel will produce the thermal equivalent of 1188 liter of gasoline over 50 years or 2375 liter of gasoline if required for electricity generation. Note that these 2375 liter gasoline weigh 1710 kilo. An amount that needs to be transported from Siberia or Saudi-Arabia to Germany first, where the Good Lawd deliverers all these photons at location in Oldenburg, free of charge.

Current consumer price gasoline in Oldenburg: 1.35 euro/liter.
1188 liter would cost 1604 euro.
2375 liter would cost 3208 euro.
The panel would cost ca. 500 euro, including installation and grid connection.

From this it becomes obvious that once a society is able to store renewable electricity efficiently, and all the signs are that this is going to work (battery 98%, pumped hydro 80%, power-to-gas 70%, CAES 60%), the shocking result is that renewable energy will be much cheaper than fossil fuel. Note that the figures here relate to Oldenburg in Northern Germany. In North-Africa, Australia or elsewhere, solar conditions are up to twice as good and renewable electricity prices can be slashed accordingly, giving poor but sunny countries the excellent opportunity to make money with the export of hydrogen-based stored energy (H2, NH3, CH4, NaBH4), generated by huge solar arrays at a cost of 2 cent/kWh.

P.S. criticasters might bring forward that the gasoline prices contain a considerable chunk of taxes, which is true. The counterargument is that that argument applies to the solar panels as well. We are comparing end-consumer prices for both gasoline and solar panels. Add to that that gasoline prices are unlikely to fall, but could very well increase, certainly if a carbon tax is applied, hand-in-hand with increasing signs of disastrous climate change:

[omroepbrabant.nl] – February 15, 2019, warmest 15-2 day in recorded history in the South of the Netherlands.

It is safe to predict in contrast that prices for solar voltaics will further come down considerably:

[newenergyupdate.com] – Solar costs forecast to drop 40% by 2020

Massive further reduction of cost of solar arrays is possible if one abandons the concept of heavy and expensive solar modules and corresponding all-weather mounting racks and replace them with thin solar film, mounted on lightweight plastic and rails, much like a curtain. A bit like this:

They can be installed in a desert with low air circulation, with the possibility of closing “the curtains” in case of rare strong winds.

Fuel Cells for a Fraction of the Cost of Platinum

[source]

Again we are confirmed in our intuition that fuel cells, not 400 kg batteries, are the way forward for electro-mobility. New research from the University of California, Riverside suggests that the expensive catalyst platinum can be avoided and replaced by an inexpensive polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC).

The catalyst developed at UCR is made of porous carbon nanofibers embedded with a compound made from a relatively abundant metal such as cobalt, which is more than 100 times less expensive than platinum. The research was led by David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation in UCR’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering

[sciencedaily.com] – Making fuel cells for a fraction of the cost
[ucrtoday.ucr.edu] – Making fuel cells for a fraction of the cost
[wiley.com] – Electrocatalytic N‐Doped Graphitic Nanofiber – Metal/Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Composites
[wikipedia.org] – Proton-exchange membrane fuel cell

USA Energy Mix 2017

The Final Nail in the Coffin of US Peak Oil Supply

[source]

That’s it, the final nail in the coffin of US peak oil supply:

The USGS estimates that over 46 billion barrels of oil, 280 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are trapped in these low-permeability shale formations. To better understand just how staggering these numbers are, think about this: at the end of 2017, total U.S. proven reserves of crude oil hovered around 40 billion barrels. For natural gas, figures stood around 465 trillion cubic feet (tcf). The new upward revision of Permian resources represents a more than 100% and 65% increase in U.S. oil and gas reserves, respectively, if they can be extracted economically.

[forbes.com] – US Oil And Gas Reserves Double With New Permian Discovery
[pubs.er.usgs.gov] – Assessment of undiscovered continuous oil and gas resources in the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation of the Delaware Basin, Permian Basin Province, New Mexico and Texas, 2018
[deepresource] – The Sudden Death of Peak Oil – 4.5 Trillion Barrels of Oil Left
[theguardian.com] – We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all

Elestor Builds Large-Scale Hydrogen-Bromine Battery

The Dutch startup Elector has built a 50 kW hydrogen-bromide battery in Emmeloord. The technology was developed in the sixties by NASA, the electrolyte hydrogen-bromide is dirt cheap. According to Elestor a storage price of below 5 cent/kWh is possible as of 250 kWh storage capacity. The asymptotic price level is a spectacular 2 cent/kWh, beyond 1,000 kWh storage capacity. This would suggest community storage rather than privately-owned batteries.

[elestor.nl] – Elestor company site
[elestor.nl] – Elestor scientific papers
[wikipedia.org] – Hydrogen bromine battery
[wattisduurzaam.nl] – Doorbraaktechnologie energieopslag schaalt op in Flevoland

What is special about this kind of battery is that the storage cost per kWh decreases with scale:

Read more…

Iron Flow Battery

Battery based on iron and salt water, virtually without negative environmental side-effects.

[essinc.com] – ESS Company site
[wikipedia.org] – Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – EFE breakthrough in Iron Flow Tech (150 kW, $300/kWh)
[greentechmedia.com] – UniEnergy Vanadium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – Imergy Recycled Vanadium for Flow Batteries
[greentechmedia.com] – CellCube Vanadium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – EnerVault Iron-Chromium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – Primus Power Zinc-Bromide Flow Battery

Donald Sadoway on Liquid Metal Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are short-lived, which is fine for phones but not for grid applications. Liquid metal batteries were born from the practice of electrochemical aluminium smelting (electricity in, aluminium from oxide out), but operating in reverse. Electrons come from the lighter metal on top, where the corresponding ions are travelling downwards through the electrolyte in order to recombine with the electrons at the boundary of the heavier liquid metal at the bottom. For the rest, no mixing takes places and the three layers remain separate. During discharge the top layer gets thinner and bottom layer thicker, during charging this reverses. There is no need for membranes. Degrading of the system is nearly absent. Donald Sadoway c.s. formed a company now called Ambri.

P.S. in a latest development, Sadoway seems to be using a membrane after all, see Nature link below.

[wired.com] – Inside the race to build the battery of tomorrow
[wbur.org] – A Low-Tech Approach To Energy Storage: Molten Metals
[wikipedia.org] – Donald Sadoway
[wikipedia.org] – Molten-salt battery
[news.mit.edu] – A new approach to rechargeable batteries
[greentechmedia.com] – Ambri Still Chasing Its Liquid Metal Battery Dreams
[ambri.com] – Company site
[phys.org] – New battery made of molten metals may offer low-cost, long-lasting storage for the grid. Liquid electrodes solve the problem of degrading solid ones.
[nature.com] – Faradaically selective membrane for liquid metal displacement batteries
[chemistryworld.com] – Solid electrolyte boosts liquid metal battery


Everything molten: lighter metal A, salt electrolyte and heavier metal B.

The green elements are heavier and will sink to the bottom.

Read more…

Encouraging Tesla S/X Battery Degradation Data

A Dutch-language forum of Tesla-owners (Netherlands + Belgium) gathered usage data of their over 350 Tesla vehicles and battery capacity data in particular. The results are encouraging to say the least and suggest that a single battery could power a Tesla S/X for the entire economic life-cycle of the vehicle. Degradation is at its fastest during the first 50,000 miles, a very acceptable 5% only. Then you have to work harder to get at the next 5%: 136,000 miles.

In continental European words: you can drive your Tesla S/X over 300,000 km and your battery will still be able to contain north of 90% of the original energy capacity (85 kWh).

These figures are not universal though. Nissan for instance has far less shining figures, see links below.

[electrek.co] – Tesla battery degradation at less than 10% after over 160,000 miles, according to latest data
[teslamotorsclub.com] – Forum data

Bill Gates with DOE into Mini Molten Salt Reactors

[source]

The Energy Department is participating in major push with electric utility Southern and a company founded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to develop small nuclear power reactors that are less expensive and more efficient than their much larger cousins.

“Molten salt reactors are getting a reboot,” the Energy Department tweeted late Wednesday, offering a schematic of a battery-like power plant module that “could power America’s energy.”

Investment volume: 20 + 28 million $.
Prototype expected by 2030.

[washingtonexaminer.com] – Energy Department teams up with Bill Gates to move mini-nuclear plants to market
[whatisnuclear.com] – Molten Salt Reactors

Hoover Dam to Become Mega-Battery

[source]

Date of first operation: 1936
Primary reservoir: 35.200 km3, 180 km
Generating capacity: 2.080 MW
Annual generation: 4.2 TWh
Project cost: $3B
Date operational start hydro storage: 2028

[wikipedia.org] – Hoover Dam
[spiegel.de] – Hoover-Damm soll Mega-Batterie werden
[cleantechnica.com] – LA To Turn Hoover Dam Into World’s Largest Hydro Storage
[nytimes.com] – The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery

High Efficiency Electricity Storage With Antiferroelectrics

[source]

Here we report our first-principles-based theoretical predictions that Bi1−xRxFeO3 systems (R being a lanthanide, Nd in this work) can potentially allow high energy densities (100–150 J cm−3 [*]) and efficiencies (80–88%)

[*] That would be 1 kWh/24 liter.

[phys.org] – Antiferroelectrics for storing energy from renewable sources
[phys.org] – First step toward creating efficient electrolyte-free batteries
[nature.com] – Designing lead-free antiferroelectrics for energy storage
[wikipedia.org] – Antiferroelectricity

The State of Solar

[worldatlas.com] – Countries That Use The Most Solar Power
[energy-charts.de] – Electricity-production in Germany

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